Week two meeting with the kids went really well! There were a few more kids present for this meeting so we had even more participation and enthusiasm from them. Essentially, we went through the plot of Act 1 and asked the kids about what major plot point they would want to adjust or alter. The kids were actually really enthusiastic about changing Claudio’s gender and renaming her Claudia, which I thought was a really cool idea and also really impressive that these kids wanted to do that. Also, one student was excited about potentially doing some drawings for Act 1. Overall, the meeting went really well and I am excited to keep working with this group!

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this week’s meeting with the kids, but we made a lot of decisions during our workday.

Act IV decided it would be best to film little by little, so nobody is overwhelmed. Since our kids seemed very excited by the idea of using some type of action figures instead of drawings, we planned to ask if they had these materials or needed Jepson to purchase them. We also began to search through the library guides for music samples. Not only was this another idea from the kids, but also makes sense considering we have a promposal and final dance scene. The only other detail we were planning on addressing was potentially making Claudio a Claudia.

 

Apparently, I missed some interesting decisions! My other group members let me know the community partner we’re working with rearranged the groups and that we had some new kids. They repeated much of the information from the first week and then the kids assigned figurines to the characters. So now in our adaptation, we have Hero as Moana, Claudio as the Hulk, Pedro as Iron Man, Leo as Batman, Ben as Spiderman, and Beatrice as a character from Trolls. Honestly, why not?

Week 2 continued to bring interesting twists to our process. As a group, we created a list of plot points to bring to the meeting, in the hopes that we could share them with the students and ask them to “translate” it into their own words/re-tell the story in their own way. One student read the document we created with the plot points, and it was in this time, that we learned that the student was struggling to pronounce a lot of the words–6th grade, am I right? I did the same thing. Many of the names, in particular, were hard for him, and he called Claudio “Claundido” and Borachio “Borahco”. At first, I wanted to correct him and explain how the words were “really said”, but then I realized that the usage of these different names was really unique to THESE students and THEIR production. For example, if we really seek ways to “decolonize” Shakespeare, one way to do this would be having the narrators say things like “Claundido” and “Borahco” and sharing comments such as, “They got bougie names…”, which was said during our meeting. Just an idea…

Our translation process was a bit slow and we are considering other ways to go about this process, but in the meantime, another idea I had was to incorporate the sentences they said “off-the-record” into the script. For example, the bougie name comment and others like, “That’s a green”, “I think they like each other”, etc. I wonder if this could be part of the way we use their modern, every-day language to help them revamp this story.

The first week, we jumped right in working with the kids. There were only three of them and one had to leave early, so it was a bit awkward… but our group made it work! We showed them a video with an overview of the entire original play and then tried to give them an overview of Act 4 in particular, but I found it difficult because the students kept speaking with each other and it was hard to hear when they were/were not listening to us/engaging with us. I think this was partly because the students were all on in one space together, not on individual devices, and the sound was not ideal. This also just made it hard to find direction and sustain a conversation. Yet, despite these small setbacks, things are going well. The students had a lot of positive energy, which we can use to our advantage, and they had shared many ideas about using these robots they have on-site in the final video. At this point, I think our group needs to create a tentative agenda for our meetings to help give us direction and be efficient while having fun with and getting to know the students!

This was our second week working with the community partners on our Shakespeare project. At first, it was a bit confusing, since the number of kids that we were working with fluctuated from last week. That being said, it seemed like the kids were a bit more prepared to pick up on the material, and by the end of the session, there was a general understanding of what the story was about. This made me wonder though, how can we get the kids to focus more? They are absolutely picking up on the major themes of our scene, but they seem to be stuck on the major themes. We have to find a way to get them to begin creating dialogue and eventually move on to creating their pictures. (We’re still trying to figure out if it will be drawings, robots, or both.)

 

I think that there may be a way though. Perhaps if we were to “gamify” the way that the scene is given to them, we may be able to get better responses. Maybe if we make the writing of the script more like a game, we will be more successful in getting a script ready for whatever art form may have to accompany it.

My group’s second meeting with our community partners was just as productive and fun as the first. To our surprise, we had a few more students join us for this meeting. We began by explaining JSP in more detail for those weren’t in attendance last week. We then focused on the logistics of our virtual project, determining who wants a speaking role and who wants to work on the technical side of our adaptation. Fortunately, we had many volunteers for both of these positions. The students also expressed interest in creating stop-motion style images for the project, along with the use of Legos and action figures.

After getting these technical questions settled, I went through the plot of act 1 very briefly for the students who were not with us last meeting. I was surprised by how much plot information the students retained, especially since they’ve never even read or seen the play. I think this is a testament to how engaged they are during our meetings. Overall, we had the most student participation when we began to decide on character names and personalities. I was happily shocked by the fact that the students so willingly wanted to change Claudio to Claudia, with the further intent of making her “emo.” I support these changes—I think having a girl be the star of the high school’s football team makes our story more interesting and potentially more progressive. Along with the Claudio/Claudia switch, the students basically modernized all of the character names except for Hero, which I found intriguing because it seemed like our class also wanted to keep her name the same. Maybe we can incorporate Hero’s unique name into the script as we begin to write it (maybe it’s a nickname with a relevant backstory). Furthermore, it seemed like the students also wanted the characters to reflect their own interests. For example, one student really wanted at least one character be in the theatre club. I look forward to continuing to draft our abridged script of act 1 and present it to the kids next week!

This week was definitely more challenging than last. The beginning of the meeting was productive.We asked the students if they remembered what our act was about and gaged how they felt about presenting the scenes. Two students seemed very excited about drawing and trying to read the lines, but the other student seemed uninterested overall. We tried our best to be as engaging as possible; asking them about their days and their weekends, but it was a real challenge to get them to pay attention and stay on task. Of course I never assumed three teenage boys would attentively listen to four college girls, especially through a screen, but I was feeling more of a disconnect this week. Once we got to reading the lines, only one student was really paying attention and participating so we filled in to read the other character’s lines. After the meeting was over, the director of our group asked us to stay for a few moments after the kids had left the room. He told us we did a great job at keeping the student engaged and de-escalating the bickering that was going on. He said he was very grateful for our effort and attention to the kids. Overall, even though this week was challenging, I think we are in a good place to hopefully help them start drawing scenes next week and figuring out some type of audio to put to the drawings. It was also re-assuring to hear from the director that we were doing a good job with the kids.

After some technical difficulties, we started our meeting with the students discussing Much Ado and how we changed it to be more modern. Only two boys were in class that day. By the end of the meeting we were going over lines from scene 2 with the help of the teachers. Both boys were shy and nervous to read and their reading skills were not as good as we expected. However, both of the boys are very interested in art and want to draw pictures for the scenes.

The second week more students were there but there was only one teacher. It was hard to keep the kids on track and listen to our directions and none of them had an interest in reading. We learned the next time we meet with him we need to have more of a plan. We plan to give them a summary of the scene and either we read the lines to the kids or they can volunteer. After reading and discussing the scene, they will come up with ideas of how to illustrate and draw pictures to represent that scene.

This week’s meeting was great! We went into it with a rough plan of what we wanted to talk about and this helped us stay on track. We began by reviewing a plot outline of our Act. Before the meeting, we sent a written outline to the teacher and he printed it out for the students. This helped the students focus on what we were going to cover in our scenes. We then began to discuss what sort of methods they wanted to use to visualize the play. They were keen on using action figures and drawing so we are going to do a combination of the two!

I found this week to be rewarding and much more productive than last week because we had a plan, and the students were engaging with the material. There was little involvement from the teacher in the classroom, which proved to help their focus on the four of us. They seemed to be very excited by the use of drawing and action figures and began to brainstorm some creative ways to display the party scene! As a spoiler, there might be a Halloween pool party coming your way soon!

We ended by discussing ideas for drawings they might create and asked them to use some free time to sketch ideas for the party scene and lockerroom scene!

This week started with some re-introductions because we had some new group members (5 people now with 2 of the same students as in Week 1). The teachers said it was because they rearranged the students based on engagement and interest in the project. These students definitely seemed a little more enthusiastic about the project. We then had to re-assign students to the scenes and explained more about the act to them to familiarize the new group members. Once we decided on which students would handle which scenes, they worked together to choose which action figures they wanted to play each of the characters for the adaptation that their teacher purchased for them. They decided to have Hero as Moana, Claudio as the Hulk, Don Pedro as Iron Man, Leonato as Batman, Benedick as Spiderman, and Beatrice as a character from Trolls. Their teacher was not that good at keeping them engaged and could do better in making sure they’re listening throughout the session. However, as the meeting went on they became more engaged, especially when picking the action figures. It was overall a good jumping off point that will put is in a good spot to get more into the details of the scenes next time. So far we decided that Leonato will challenge Claudio and Don Pedro to a basketball game in Scene 1 and are going to keep Claudio as a boy. They expressed some interest in maybe making Claudio a girl as Claudia and Hero a boy, but ultimately decided against it.